Nov. 20, 2019 – A program called “Lost in the Law” has provided participating lawyers with a new perspective on what it means to navigate the legal system in Wisconsin as a self-represented litigant, with little or no assistance from a lawyer.
“Lost in the Law: Navigating Civil Legal Issues in Wisconsin” is a project developed by partners at the Marquette University Law School, Legal Action of Wisconsin, New Leaders Council, and the Milwaukee Justice Center.
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A role-playing game, the project educates law students and lawyers through simulations that illustrate the complex challenges that pro se litigants face. It debuted at the 2019 Equal Justice Conference in March, sponsored by the State Bar of Wisconsin.
Angela Schultz, assistant dean of public service at Marquette University Law School, and Milwaukee Justice Center Executive Director Mary Ferwerda spearheaded the program. Both were recently named 2019 Wisconsin Legal Innovators.
“The Lost in the Law Program provides on opportunity for participants to walk in the shoes of self-represented litigants,” Ferwerda notes in this video interview from the 2019 Equal Justice Conference.
Ferwerda said the Milwaukee Justice Center helps about 10,000 people per year through their services, including pro bono programs. Schultz said about 67 percent of Marquette law students provide pro bono help through the justice center.
“The Milwaukee Justice Center is able to assist those who may not qualify for representation through civil legal aid organizations,” Ferwerda said.
The center is a great resource for people in the Milwaukee area, but not all counties have similar services. “People can feel frustrated or alone,” she said.
The Lost in the Law project gives lawyers and law students a glimpse into that world, and helps promote greater involvement in available pro bono programs. Schultz said getting law students involved early can help build a “habit” of pro bono service.